Mike Cormack

Mike Cormack is a writer, editor and reviewer mostly focusing on China, where he lived from 2007-2014. He was the editor of Agenda Beijing.
Mike Cormack
Mike Cormack is a writer, editor and reviewer mostly focusing on China, where he lived from 2007-2014. He was the editor of Agenda Beijing.

Latest from Mike Cormack

Review | Tale of four real-life escapees from 1949 Shanghai fails to captivate

Helen Zia’s Last Boat Out of China follows four real-life people who fled Shanghai as youngsters, but too much technical information burdens the narrative, while the personal details seem tame compared with the backdrop of war.

30 Jan 2019 - 3:13PM
Tale of four real-life escapees from 1949 Shanghai fails to captivate

Helen Zia’s Last Boat Out of China follows four real-life people who fled Shanghai as youngsters, but too much technical information burdens the narrative, while the personal details seem tame compared with the backdrop of war.

Five things Jackie Chan glossed over in his new memoir Never Grow Up

Jackie Chan writes candidly about his troubled past in his book, but leaves out some details of his life. His illegitimate daughter is never mentioned and her actress mother is not named.

6 Dec 2018 - 5:41AM
Five things Jackie Chan glossed over in his new memoir Never Grow Up

Jackie Chan writes candidly about his troubled past in his book, but leaves out some details of his life. His illegitimate daughter is never mentioned and her actress mother is not named.

Review | New Jackie Chan memoir Never Grow Up offers insights into a flawed everyman

Martial arts action star recounts his days of high living as well as challenges of parenthood and breaking into Hollywood on his own terms

6 Dec 2018 - 4:33PM
New Jackie Chan memoir Never Grow Up offers insights into a flawed everyman

Martial arts action star recounts his days of high living as well as challenges of parenthood and breaking into Hollywood on his own terms

Jackie Chan shares his darker side: five of the most shocking revelations from his memoir

The martial arts and film star tells of drinking binges, prostitutes and an affair. He admits to domestic violence such as throwing his son Jaycee across the room.

4 Dec 2018 - 9:06AM
Jackie Chan shares his darker side: five of the most shocking revelations from his memoir

The martial arts and film star tells of drinking binges, prostitutes and an affair. He admits to domestic violence such as throwing his son Jaycee across the room.

Review | China Dream by Ma Jian is a scathing satire of the absurd reality facing a silenced nation

Untethered from the restrictions of his homeland, the Britain-based author, whose talks at Hong Kong literary festival were cancelled without explanation, draws a dystopic vision of China’s dark realities

8 Nov 2018 - 3:03PM
China Dream by Ma Jian is a scathing satire of the absurd reality facing a silenced nation

Untethered from the restrictions of his homeland, the Britain-based author, whose talks at Hong Kong literary festival were cancelled without explanation, draws a dystopic vision of China’s dark realities

Review | Michael Palin retraces final journey of ill-fated HMS Erebus in new book, tries to piece together ship’s tragic end

The beloved broadcaster and actor brings the 19th-century Royal Navy ship and its crew to life as he relives the perilous expeditions it undertook, even if routine naval life did not always prove exciting

29 Sep 2018 - 2:36PM
Michael Palin retraces final journey of ill-fated HMS Erebus in new book, tries to piece together ship’s tragic end

The beloved broadcaster and actor brings the 19th-century Royal Navy ship and its crew to life as he relives the perilous expeditions it undertook, even if routine naval life did not always prove exciting

Review | Bruce Lee’s death: biography offers a bizarre new theory

Heatstroke probably caused death of martial arts master after he had sweat glands surgically removed from armpits, author claims

15 Oct 2018 - 10:56AM
Bruce Lee’s death: biography offers a bizarre new theory

Heatstroke probably caused death of martial arts master after he had sweat glands surgically removed from armpits, author claims

Review | Chinese American’s debut novel of Chinese expat life a clever examination of memory and what we make of the cards we’re dealt

What We Were Promised, Chinese American author’s cleverly plotted debut novel about a well-off couple’s life in the US and China, is full of twists, and insights into Chinese culture, and has an ending that reveals hidden truths.

29 Sep 2018 - 2:36PM
Chinese American’s debut novel of Chinese expat life a clever examination of memory and what we make of the cards we’re dealt

What We Were Promised, Chinese American author’s cleverly plotted debut novel about a well-off couple’s life in the US and China, is full of twists, and insights into Chinese culture, and has an ending that reveals hidden truths.

Review | The first opium war: the corruption, mistakes and misfortunes at the root of Sino-British conflict

Interspersed with interesting titbits, historian Stephen R. Platt’s book is an enjoyable read that aims to dispel the myths surrounding the combat

1 Jun 2018 - 7:34AM
The first opium war: the corruption, mistakes and misfortunes at the root of Sino-British conflict

Interspersed with interesting titbits, historian Stephen R. Platt’s book is an enjoyable read that aims to dispel the myths surrounding the combat

Review | Human cost of Mao’s Great Famine and Cultural Revolution exposed in powerful novel

Xie Hong shows through the innocent eyes of a child how an unnamed but archetypal Chinese town is devastated by one of the worst catastrophes in China’s history, the Great Leap Forward

20 Jul 2018 - 8:47PM
Human cost of Mao’s Great  Famine and Cultural Revolution exposed in powerful novel

Xie Hong shows through the innocent eyes of a child how an unnamed but archetypal Chinese town is devastated by one of the worst catastrophes in China’s history, the Great Leap Forward

Snapchat’s rise from obscure app to Facebook rival charted in How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars

Author Billy Gallagher tells how CEO Evan Spiegel invented the social app while at Stanford University, then rejected Facebook’s multibillion-dollar acquisition offer in 2013, and recounts Snapchat’s rocky expansion to an IPO

26 Feb 2018 - 8:19PM
Snapchat’s rise from obscure app to Facebook rival charted in How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars

Author Billy Gallagher tells how CEO Evan Spiegel invented the social app while at Stanford University, then rejected Facebook’s multibillion-dollar acquisition offer in 2013, and recounts Snapchat’s rocky expansion to an IPO

Review | From Jay-Z to Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith’s second non-fiction outing is a mixed bag of essays

British writer muses on everything from the gyrations of Michael Jackson to her car crash of a meeting with J.G. Ballard

20 Jul 2018 - 8:47PM
From Jay-Z to Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith’s second non-fiction outing is a mixed bag of essays

British writer muses on everything from the gyrations of Michael Jackson to her car crash of a meeting with J.G. Ballard

Review | Julian Barnes tackles sex, relation­­ships and ageing in tender age-gap love story

The Man Booker Prize-winning English writer’s funny but sad book reveals the veteran novelist at the peak of his powers

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Julian Barnes tackles sex, relation­­ships and ageing in tender age-gap love story

The Man Booker Prize-winning English writer’s funny but sad book reveals the veteran novelist at the peak of his powers

Review | Lionel Shriver disappoints with flimsy plot and thinly drawn characters in new novella

American journalist and author had an instant hit with her 2005 novel We Need to Talk about Kevin but her latest work, The Standing Chandelier, is far from a literary gem

15 Nov 2017 - 8:33PM
Lionel Shriver disappoints with flimsy plot and thinly drawn characters in new novella

American journalist and author had an instant hit with her 2005 novel We Need to Talk about Kevin but her latest work, The Standing Chandelier, is far from a literary gem

Review | Richard Branson’s latest memoir reveals perhaps more than the Virgin emperor intended

A fun romp brimming with anecdotes from the eccentric British billionaire’s extraordinary life

1 Nov 2017 - 4:01PM
Richard Branson’s latest memoir reveals perhaps more than the Virgin emperor intended

A fun romp brimming with anecdotes from the eccentric British billionaire’s extraordinary life

Review | Six Billion Shoppers, former Alibaba vice-president’s broad view of e-commerce

Porter Erisman sticks to the executive perspective in a book that’s veers from business into travelogue

11 Oct 2017 - 4:36PM
Six Billion Shoppers, former Alibaba vice-president’s broad view of e-commerce

Porter Erisman sticks to the executive perspective in a book that’s veers from business into travelogue

Review | Chinese-American author Jenny Zhang’s taboo-busting short stories mix sweet and rancid

Zhang explores juvenile sexuality and the way trauma is passed down the generations with a strong authorial voice undercut somewhat by a certain repetitiveness in content and themes

10 Aug 2017 - 2:48PM
Chinese-American author Jenny Zhang’s taboo-busting short stories mix sweet and rancid

Zhang explores juvenile sexuality and the way trauma is passed down the generations with a strong authorial voice undercut somewhat by a certain repetitiveness in content and themes

Review | Kevin Kwan’s Rich People Problems hustles his comic trilogy to a neat conclusion

Kwan shows again that he can marshal a large cast of memorably egregious characters, and can conjure fashion and interior design on the page, although he spends a little too long getting things started this time

15 Jun 2017 - 10:55AM
Kevin Kwan’s Rich People Problems hustles his comic trilogy to a neat conclusion

Kwan shows again that he can marshal a large cast of memorably egregious characters, and can conjure fashion and interior design on the page, although he spends a little too long getting things started this time

Review | James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read, but worth the effort

Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why

7 Jun 2017 - 11:23AM
James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read,  but worth the effort

Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why

Review | Loss and lies in modern China explored in Jan-Philipp Sendker’s rich and resonant novel

With its well-drawn Hong Kong and China locations and its unobtrusive symbolism, German writer’s book The Language of Solitude addresses unspoken depths in contemporary Chinese society

27 Apr 2017 - 5:02PM
Loss and lies in modern China explored in Jan-Philipp Sendker’s rich and resonant novel

With its well-drawn Hong Kong and China locations and its unobtrusive symbolism, German writer’s book The Language of Solitude addresses unspoken depths in contemporary Chinese society

Review | Author Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend a remarkable feat of prose and understanding

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life explores the painful formation of a literary mind

30 Mar 2017 - 3:13PM
Author Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend a remarkable feat of prose and understanding

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life explores the painful formation of a literary mind

Review | The Kingdom of Women: China’s ‘lost tribe’ of matriarchs, the Mosuo

Choo Waihong has a fascinating story to tell, of a tribe in China’s mountainous southwest where women are in charge but, unfortunately, this debut author’s abilities aren’t quite up to the challenge

15 Mar 2017 - 12:00PM
The Kingdom of Women:  China’s ‘lost tribe’ of matriarchs, the Mosuo

Choo Waihong has a fascinating story to tell, of a tribe in China’s mountainous southwest where women are in charge but, unfortunately, this debut author’s abilities aren’t quite up to the challenge

Review | Why Xi Jinping’s trade initiative hasn’t bought China affection, as neighbours chafe at being turned into client states

Pouring economic investment into Asian nations through the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy is unlikely to give China the influence it craves, economic analyst Tom Miller explains in a new book

20 Jul 2018 - 2:55PM
Why Xi Jinping’s trade initiative hasn’t bought China affection, as neighbours chafe at being turned into client states

Pouring economic investment into Asian nations through the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy is unlikely to give China the influence it craves, economic analyst Tom Miller explains in a new book

Review | Money, sex, guanxi: Lijia Zhang’s timely novel about prostitution and the new China doesn’t deliver on all its promises

Zhang deserves praise for striving to bring to light the seedy demimonde of Shenzhen, the epitome of China’s breakneck transformation into an urban society. Her ambition though outstrips her execution

6 Jan 2017 - 10:20AM
Money, sex, guanxi: Lijia Zhang’s timely novel about prostitution and the new China doesn’t deliver on all its promises

Zhang deserves praise for striving to bring to light the seedy demimonde of Shenzhen, the epitome of China’s breakneck transformation into an urban society. Her ambition though outstrips her execution

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